The Weight Of Dancing

Excellence Award in the 'Play On Words 2021' competition

A rattling breath took over me, as I stood, alone and burning in the centre of the stage. Uncertainty and fear, became an all too familiar tune, reducing my body to what felt like ashes. A snapshot of memories fleeted across my vision, as I recalled the sacrifices to reach this dream.

Dreams were funny things. They made you burn and ignite, the world becoming an inconvenient barrier, and the body you were imprisoned by, a hinderance to your need to fly. To reach the stars. But just like any fire, after the flames had reached every inch of life, burned through all that you had, it leaves behind a barren, ash-ridden place, a mere husk of its previous state. Even so, I persisted, with my mindless drive, gaining an addiction for the promise of achieving the intangible. The relentless routine began, as minutes turned into hours, and hours turned into days, my body moving through endless leaps and twirls, in time with the symphony of music that played in the background, filling my soul with life. Again, and again and again, until the music was no longer a separate entity, and my body became a life of its own, twisting into spins, and leaps that would burn through all that people had previously known about this art form. But still, I could not reach the stars. For, how could this body reach the heights of the stars, when it was weighed down by the excess skin and weight that it carried. No longer, I decided. No longer would this body be a cumbersome stone that dragged me down, when I yearned to fly. I would shed all that was unnecessary, all the pounds holding me back, until this body was no longer a weakness, but a weapon. So the process began, like a snake shedding its layers, to leave me with an instrument primed for use.

It began harmlessly, like it always does, incremental decreases in my weight, that would leave me blazing, and stronger than ever. My body would feel as if it were flying, defying gravity, an orchestra of emotion driving my every move. But it was never enough. The stars still winked out of reach, as I continued to shed my layers, desperately trying to reach them. Bones began to show, my too thin limbs losing the lean strength of a dancer, as my muscles dwindled with malnourishment. Still my fa├žade remained, the burning promise of my dream, becoming the only force that kept my neglected body functioning.

And so, the stage came into focus, and the wild beat of the music began, hundreds of eyes, hundreds of judgements, ready to be unleashed, with a whisper of a mistake. My body, no longer a weapon, but a mere husk, trembled with refusal, begging to be given a reprieve. But still I persisted. A great gasping breath left me, and I leapt, my body lagging, and struggling. And I fell.

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